Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/9/2015 (540 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
With a loud bang and a heavy jolt, the big, steel-mesh cage slowly begins crawling up the outside of the partially built, concrete-and-steel tower in downtown Winnipeg.
The ride is slow, noisy and more than a little unnerving for anyone who isn’t fond of heights.
After what seems like an eternity, the cage lurches to a stop, and the occupants step out onto the 12th floor of what will eventually be the 21-storey Glasshouse Skylofts in the City condominium tower.
From that height, they have an unobstructed bird’s-eye view of the entire downtown. But the floor-to-ceiling glass windows haven’t been installed yet, so everyone is warned not to go too close to the edge of the building.
The group includes David Wex, the co-founder of Urban Capital. It’s the Toronto-based developer behind the $35-million Glasshouse project, and Doug McKay, director of commercial development for Winnipeg’s Longboat Development Corp.
The Glasshouse tower is the final piece in the $130-million 311 Portage Avenue at Centrepoint development, which takes up most of the block between Portage and Ellice avenues and Hargrave and Donald streets.
Longboat and Winnipeg-based Artis Real Estate Investment Trust are the developers for Centrepoint, which also includes a five-storey, 110,000-square-foot office/retail podium, an 11-storey, 160-room Alt Hotel built on top of the podium and a five-storey, 406-stall parkade — all of which have already been built.
On Tuesday, Wex and McKay took three local journalists on a tour of the Glasshouse site to show them how the project is coming along.
"This is what the bones (of the building) look like," McKay said, as they made their way around the largely unfinished 12th floor.
With 16 of the 21 floors now in place, McKay and Wex estimate the project is about 65 per cent done. About 150 of the 200 condos have been sold, and Wex expects the first tenants to start moving in next May or June and for everyone to be moved in by some time in August.
He also expects to have all 200 units sold by then, even if the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. recently expressed concerns there’s an oversupply of unsold condos in the Winnipeg market.
"There was a time when there was a lull (in sales activity), for sure," Wex admitted.
"But once the building starts coming out of the ground and people start seeing the floors going up, then it takes off. We’ve had three or four sales in just the last two weeks."
He said he’s also pleased with the way the construction work is progressing. He said the project — Urban Capital’s first in Winnipeg — is both on time and on budget.
Wex isn’t worried about selling the rest of the unsold units because he thinks they’re unlike any other condos now under construction in the downtown, with their floor-to-ceiling windows, glass-rail balconies, sliding, warehouse-style doors and exposed ductwork and bare concrete floors, ceilings and support columns.
"It’s an industrial look," he explained. "But when the kitchens go in and the hardwood floors, that will add a little warmth."
He admitted the smallest units, which are about 435 square feet in size, are a little smaller than most Winnipeggers are used to. That’s why they designed them with floor-to-ceiling windows and included lots of amenities in the building — such things as a rooftop terrace with cabanas, firepits and an outdoor kitchen.
"One of the philosophies when you have smaller units is that the amenities have to be good."
He added the people who have purchased units so far range from singles in their early 30s to couples in their 60s.